MP Paul Burstow slams 'laughable' BSBV statistics
Plans to close St Helier Hospital's accident and emergency and maternity departments have been condemned as flawed by Government health minister Paul Burstow.
Major concerns have been raised by the Sutton and Cheam MP about how an NHS review panel could last week recommend St Helier Hospital lose the two frontline departments.
He criticised the financial basis of the review, dismissed as "laughable" statistics that informed the panel, and said it made no sense in terms of quality or safety to close maternity or accident and emergency wards in SW London when demand for the services was rising.
He said: "St Helier's future has once again been cast into doubt, thanks to a flawed conclusion from a flawed process."
Anyone who lived in Sutton, Cheam or Worcester Park, he suggested, would laugh at the suggestion presented to the panel that motorists would only face a maximum increase of 12.4 minutes travel time to another hospital.
The data they used to inform their decision predicted average increase in emergency travel time would be just 3 minutes and 20 seconds.
He said: "This is fantasy being used as the basis to take some really important decisions....residents will know there is an increased risk of people giving birth in their car on the way to maternity."
He also questioned the basis of the decision taken by the panel of 60 representatives made up from SW London hospital trusts, local authority members and community representatives that recommended St Helier lose its frontline services over Croydon University or Kingston hospital, as part of the Better Services, Better Value healthcare review.
He could not understand how a scoring process that should have weighted clinical outcomes and safety and patient experience as more than 50 per cent of the final scores for each hospital could leave St Helier as the preferred option.
BSBV are now under pressure to publish the voting breakdown across the six categories, which included only an eight per cent weighting to the deliverability of the proposed changes.
A Care Quality Commission impatient survey published last month showed Croydon University Hospital performed worse than rival hospital trusts in the BSBV A&E and maternity review in eight out of 10 main areas tested.
But the panel BSBV panel scored the Croydon as its least preferred option of hospitals to lose the frontline services.
Mr Burstow said: "I would say it appears there has been certainly a lot of briefing in this process that has portrayed St Helier as the option for these kind of closures, and it could have become a self fulfilling prophecy."
His concerns were echoed by an insider present at the BSBV panel meeting last Wednesday who, wishing to remain anonymous, told the Sutton Guardian they felt there was a lack of time for participants to analyse the data presented to them, to make a truly informed decision.
A spokesman for BSBV said data used in the data pack provided to panel members was not based on current patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes predicted for 2016-17, while travel times times to hospitals were based on official statistics provided by London Ambulance Service and Transport for London.